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Perfect conditions are rare in the Deaf Community:

William G. Vicars, EdD, Lifeprint Library, November 12, 2021

It is almost like a knee jerk reaction in online ASL-related discussion groups. Whenever someone posts a practice video in which the lighting conditions or camera angle are not perfect it triggers a reaction so common as to be a cliché: Someone will comment "Your background is distracting. You should use a plain colored background!" or "Your lighting is bad you should..." (blah, blah, blah).

Allow me to gently suggest a different way of thinking about the situation:

A practice ASL or fingerspelling video created in front of a busy background provides excellent practice for reading ASL or fingerspelling in front of a busy background.

It is common for people in online threads like this to request "perfect" conditions and to quickly suggest that the signers have "perfect" backgrounds to make the reading of signs easier.

Then those who make such requests wonder why it is after months of practice they still can't catch or understand Deaf signing in the real world.

Maybe it is because Deaf signers in everyday situations are signing in imperfect or even challenging conditions?

Constantly demanding "perfect" background conditions has a "chilling" effect. In other words, such demands cause people to be less enthusiastic about posting.

As the administrator of an online discussion group I'd rather have 10 videos with a variety of backgrounds than 2 videos with perfect backgrounds.

Those who can't "get" the harder videos are welcome to scroll on past to an easier video or hire a tutor and pay them to sign only in front of a plain colored, contrasting background.


*Note: Let's not confuse "practice" with production. The above situation is not the same as when an ASL teacher must correct dozens (or hundreds) of ASL videos each semester and requests the students use good lighting and a solid background. The above is also not the same as when a presenter is giving a formal presentation in front of a large group of Deaf or intended for public announcement purposes. In those situations it is of course appropriate to provide the best lighting and background as reasonably possible with your available time, energy, budget, and other resources.




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